Queer Town: LA Unified Opposes Prop. 8

Board members of the Los Angeles Unified School District leaped into the political arena yesterday and unanimously voted on a resolution to oppose Proposition 8, the November ballot measure that changes California's state constitution and bans same sex marriage. Today, Sacramento mayoral candidate Kevin Johnson will voice his opposition to the ballot measure. Taken all together, it's been a good week so far for the "No on Prop. 8" team.

The LA Unified vote, however, brings up certain questions. Just as many opponents of Prop. 8 are horrified that socially conservative school district boards in California are voting, or want to hold votes, to support the ballot measure, and wondering why in the heck are educators taking a political stand when they should be focused on the academic achievement of students, the same should hold true for liberal school boards who oppose banning same sex marriage. Reporter Jessica Garrison wrote an interesting piece about this predicament in the LA Times last month.

The press wizards at LA Unified obviously understood this kind of criticism would pop up, so in their press release, they included a quote from Francisco Duenas of Lambda Legal, a gay rights legal group. "This resolution is not only good for LGBT kids, but LGBT headed families and employees," Duenas says. "We must work together to create an environment that supports respect and equal treatment. Eliminating fundamental rights--from anyone--is just plain wrong."

The logic Duenas throws out there--that gay and lesbian kids, families, and employees will be affected by the passage of Prop. 8--obviously makes a certain kind of sense, but it still feels like a stretch.

Kevin Johnson, on the other hand, is something of a wonderful surprise. Johnson's in a heated campaign battle against Sacramento Mayor Heather Fargo, who has opposed Prop. 8 since it was officially placed on the November ballot. Fargo has also officiated over a few same sex weddings. Johnson has been somewhat reluctant to come out against Prop. 8, citing his religious views that tell him marriage is only between a man and a woman.

Johnson has apparently been taking some political heat for that position, and he wants to be Sacramento's next mayor. So today, he will hold a press conference to publicly oppose Prop. 8. If anything, Johnson's change of heart may be a good sign for opponents of the ballot measure--support Prop. 8, and you're dead meat politically in California...or at least certain parts of California. Either way, the pro-gay marriage crowd most definitely welcomes him aboard.

Contact Patrick Range McDonald at

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